Align, the Alliance for a Greater New York, said in a news release that commercial waste is collected “by a highly dysfunctional and outsized private system.” The group argues that a franchise system would ensure better environmental and labor practices for the city. It has issued a study on the matter titled, “Transform Don’t Trash NYC: How to Increase Good Jobs, Recycling and Justice in the Commercial Waste Industry.”
David Biderman, vice president for government affairs for the Washington-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) says in an interview, “We have to review the report but we have serious concerns about the suggestion that imposing commercial waste franchises in New York City is an effective approach to waste and recycling management. It reduces choices for customers, it eliminates competition, and as a result will likely raise costs significantly for customers of the carters.”
He says the group appears to be aiming its message at the next administration in New York City, in 2014. “NSWMA intends to be part of any discussion concerning the policy issues raised in this report.”
Align, which states that its mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities and an accountable democracy for New York, said that excess garbage trucks on the road contribute to bad smog, violations of clean air standards and strong noise pollution. The city’s businesses generate 3.2 million tons of solid waste annually, and New York disposes more than 2 million tons of that in landfills and incinerators.
Align said the city could reduce pollution, have cleaner and healthier communities, save money, improve the wages of waste workers and create quality jobs in recycling through an exclusive franchise system, an approach used by cities like Los Angeles and Seattle.
A franchise system would use a competitive bidding process to select commercial haulers to serve franchise zones established by the city. The franchise awardees would have to meet certain environmental standards, increase recycling rates, reduce truck emissions, more equitably distribute waste handling across the city, meet labor standards to improve job safety and quality and create quality recycling jobs, the group said. The franchise system would ensure accountability through reporting requirements and increased city oversight.
In return, franchisees would benefit from a steady, efficiently located base of customers, Align said.